Louis Philippe

Louis Philippe lwē fēlēpˈ [key], 1773–1850, king of the French (1830–48), known before his accession as Louis Philippe, duc d'Orléans. The son of Philippe Égalité (see Orléans, Louis Philippe Joseph, duc d'), he joined the army of the French Revolution, but deserted (1793) with Gen. Charles François Dumouriez. Although in exile for the next 20 years, he did not collaborate with France's enemies. Reconciled with the Bourbons, he returned to France after their restoration and soon recovered his huge fortune. He figured in the liberal opposition to kings Louis XVIII and Charles X and was supported by the discontented upper bourgeoisie and by the liberal journalists.

In the July Revolution of 1830, Louis Philippe was made lieutenant general of the realm and, with the support of the marquis de Lafayette, was chosen “king of the French.” His reign, known as the July Monarchy, marked the triumph of the wealthy bourgeoisie and a return to influence of many former Napoleonic officials. Although the constitutional charter of 1814 was revised (1830) in a liberal direction, the new legislature was unresponsive to the economic needs and political desires of the lower classes.

In the early years of his reign, Louis Philippe's basically conservative outlook was strengthened by a number of workers' demonstrations and by several attempts on his life, notably that of Giuseppe Fieschi (1835). Although the king was a constitutional monarch, he gained considerable personal power by splitting the liberal movement and appointing weak ministers, such as Louis Molé. Eventually a conservative ministry, dominated (1840–48) by François Guizot, who had the king's confidence, came to power.

In foreign policy, Louis Philippe promoted Anglo-French friendship and supported colonial expansion; Algeria was conquered in his reign. He cooperated with England in support (1831) of Belgian independence and in the Quadruple Alliance of 1834. The Franco-British rapprochement was ended (1846), however, by the Spanish marriages (see Isabella II), which violated a previous Franco-British agreement.

In France, Louis Philippe became increasingly unpopular. On the right he was opposed by the legitimists (who supported the senior Bourbon line) and by the Bonapartists. The leftist elements organized numerous secret revolutionary societies. The opposition to the government undertook (1847–48) a banquet campaign to propagate the demand for electoral reform. The campaign led to the February Revolution of 1848. Louis Philippe abdicated in favor of his grandson (see Orléans, family), but a republic was set up. The king fled to England, where he died. Louis Philippe was known as the “citizen king” because of his bourgeois manner and dress, and he and his regime were satirized by Honoré Daumier.

See J. Lucas-Dubreton, The Restoration and the July Monarchy (tr. 1929); biographies by J. S. C. Abbott (1902), C. Gavin (1933), A. de Stoeckl (1958), T. E. Howarth (1961), and P. H. Beik (1965).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: French History: Biographies